But the people arriving are not just here to eat. Assafiri addresses the group of about 30 men and women who are gathered around the tables and perched on stools, with Muslim women dotted between them. Respectfully, we can ask why people wear the hijab, do they sleep in it, do they shower in it.

Set Match: My Five Minutes of Muslim Speed Dating

The point of this exercise is to break down the divisions that exist in this simplistic environment that only seeks to demonise and further marginalise Muslim women. She makes it clear that each woman is offering her own point of view only, and is not speaking for Islam or Muslim people as a whole. There is applause, and the restaurant quickly fills with conversation and laughter. Over the course of an hour, men and women drift between tables and in and out of conversations with the Muslim women. At one table, people are contemplating whether an atrocity like the Cronulla riots could ever happen in Melbourne.

No one really has an answer, but seem to agree that tensions today are different, involving an added layer of religious intolerance on top of racial tensions.


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But the conversations are also intensely personal. Husna Pasha, an Indian Australian and Muslim, holds a table rapt by her story of arranging her own marriage to a devout and conservative Indian Muslim man at the age of What would have made me proud is for you to be happy. You may become the first divorcee in our family, but you need to get the hell out.

The experience led her to create The Talk Show Series , a collection of seminars and videos to teach women confidence and self-esteem. Maria Dimopoulos, a diversity and gender equality consultant, is attending Muslim speed-dating for the second time.

He was proven so wrong. It adds another dimension to feminism, it can be empowering. People might quote Hadiths [a collection of traditions containing sayings of the prophet Muhammad] and say the Hadiths call for it. But Hadiths were written only by men. I do not agree with the Hadiths either. My parents are not thrilled with this idea. When we arrived, I signed an ominous waiver promising not to ask for a refund no matter the outcome of the event.

One by one, the other participants piled in. They were all women.

Sydney Muslims feel at home despite very high racism exposure, survey finds

I was also the only one dressed in a traditional Pakistani shalwar kameez— the invitation suggested business attire, but my mother insisted, and I deferred to her superior knowledge of arranged-marriage etiquette. No one else had brought their parents along. Over the next 90 minutes, the guys trickled in. More than half of the men were old.

While I respect the need to find companionship at any stage of life, the gender and age imbalance of the event meant that there would be no groupings by age—everyone would talk to everyone. Some of the women were ready to riot. I now understood why the event required a waiver.

I sat in my traditional clothes and looked up at my parents, my face burning red with embarrassment. Not only was I speed dating, I looked like the weirdest person there. The crowd let out a collective groan. We did not want our faces shown on camera.


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  • The crew spent the rest of the time videotaping our backs. I pouted at my mom across the room. In Islam, dating is a bad word. Currently this means subscribing to sites like SingleMuslim. I reject guys who are too overweight or short or boring. Going to public school made gender segregation difficult to enforce. Working with a boy on a school project always required an explanation.

    If a male voice ever called the house, my parents would pick up the phone in the middle of the conversation I could hear the click. When I came home, my dad told me he had followed me in his car.

    How does a young Muslim living in the West find a partner these days?

    I was furious, but my parents were right to be suspicious. I liked boys a lot, and boys liked me. I was a rebellious teenager in the most brown way possible—a straight-A student, alcohol- and drug-free, enrolled in a million extracurriculars. Back in the chairs, it was clear to me that many of the men and women in attendance had not gotten out much.

    Muslim speed dating experience. Dating - Wikipedia

    Not all the women were sparkling conversationalists, either. A businesswoman sitting next to me interrogated each and every male with the same battery of questions: Are you ready to get married in the next year? What qualities do you find attractive and unattractive?

    In our quest to resist temptation and remain pious, our community has left its youth confused and unsure about how to approach the opposite sex. Our parents and religious leaders have set the boundaries but have failed to give us any practical guidance on how to follow them. When we are finally let out on a short leash to begin finding spouses, the pressure can be too much to handle. Then I met Amir.

    He was one of the few good-looking dudes at the event, and I knew all eyes were on him. Tall, lean, and sporting a soul patch I would have to remove later, Amir worked for the government and lived in the D. Our families both came from the same city in Pakistan. We bantered easily, exchanging printouts of our quick bios to scan and search for conversational topics. We both enjoyed arts and culture, and we loved city life. Our five minutes ended too quickly, but Amir promised to catch up during the post-event dinner.